Two weeks after a state budget agreement was announced the deal seems to be crumbling.Democrats and Republicans are still divided on critical issues including revenue streams. Among the most controversial is the lifting of the sales tax exemption on tickets to live performances, leasing state forest land to gas drillers without imposing a severance tax and a tax on small games of chance run by social clubs, fire departments and other private organizations. As the deal began to crumble Governor Ed Rendell went to reporters and issued a sort of open letter to lawmakers to get to work on a deal. Last night Majority Leader Todd Eachus announced an amendment reflecting the concerns voiced by fellow house and senate members. It added a tax on Shale extractions, cigars and smokeless tobacco, and got rid of the arts and small games levies. That is not the end of the debate. Senate Republicans say the Shale and tobacco taxes are non-starters. House Democrats pushed forward anyway, and they’re scheduled to vote on the new budget plan today.The House will stay in session through the weekend, though at this point, Senate leaders say they won’t be in session.
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